Harry Potter belongs to J K Rowling, the wonderful lady who has inspired so many people to try their hand at writing too. Warhammer 40k belongs to Games Workshop who have a very scary legal team. Please don't sue me, I'm not very well off and could only pay you in pictures. I only mean to pay homage to the wonderful, funny, baroque, gruesomeness that is WH40k.
So this is the very last chapter Inquisitor Carrow and it really didn't want to be written, and it got longer and longer. I tried to split it in two but it didn't want to do that either. Are all last chapters this difficult?
Snape was furious, not only had the Headmaster done something completely idiotic like make Carrow the fill-in Defence teacher, he'd then asked him to supervise since "they got along so well together". As if he hadn't got enough to do, and frankly the idea of Carrow teaching a group of children was a worrying thought. What was Dumbledore thinking?
More worryingly, the Headmaster had promised to help him out by covering some of his classes for him, while he was off stopping the giant lump from permanently damaging the students. He wouldn't be surprised if the irritating old man decided to teach the little brats how to make cauldron toffee...or even popcorn, leaving the talentless cretins even further behind than they already were.
He cautiously sidled past the monstrosity that was Carrow's security golem, its eyeless sockets following his every move. He knew Carrow had keyed him in to his defences, but it certainly didn't set his mind at ease. Breathing a sigh of relief once he was inside the old fencing hall, Snape looked around surprised and suspicious at some of the new additions to the room. Dust-sheet draped figures, unnervingly humanoid in shape, stood along one wall, while towering above them was Carrow's "inspirational" mural of a horrific battle scene. It was so detailed Snape had a suspicion that Carrow had based it on events that he'd actually witnessed, which was not a reassuring thought at all.
The previously empty alcove was full of boxes. Since Carrow wasn't obviously around, he had a sneaky peak before recoiling in disgust. Human bones, the boxes were full of human bones. Where had Carrow found so many fresh human bones? There had been no further reports of any grave robbing so that, probably, ruled that out.
A soft rustle from behind caused him to spin round, wand drawn, ready for anything that Carrow's warped and over-active creativity could throw at him. A small woman or maybe a teenage girl stood before him, clothed in a loose black robe, her brown hair looked as if it had been hacked off roughly with a knife; and then he saw her eyes, her very red eyes as of a very recently fed vampire. They had a curious, unfocused quality to them as if she wasn't quite aware of what was in front of her. Snape looked at her more closely; on the palms of both hands were burn scars in the form of runes. Snape's knowledge of runes was fairly basic, but these appeared to be for control of some kind. He looked at her sharply.
"What has happened to you, I wonder?" He couldn't see Carrow doing something like this despite some of his stranger tendencies. The large man was oddly honourable in his way.
"Natasha," boomed Carrow's deep and gravelly voice.
The little vampire trotted away to seek out her current protector.
Snape's mind was whirling as seemingly unconnected incidences started to connect making a horrible sort of sense. An icy feeling in his stomach, he looked up at the perpetrator of this entire mess. "Explain?" he hissed furious and scared at the latest mess the large man had caused.
Carrow explained...as much as he was prepared to.
"So you decided to "waste not, want not" with the remains of your pet vampire's "snacks" from Knockturn and keep the bones to make more of your golems," Snape managed to get out, feeling slightly hysterical. Prolonged contact with Carrow was starting to make him have fond recollections of Death Eater meetings.
Carrow shrugged his shoulders, completely at ease. "They're for the Lodge when I move in permanently."
Snape closed his eyes and counted down from ten slowly, in Mandarin Chinese. Feeling slightly calmer, he glared at the Inquisitor.
"As for...Natasha, your first thought on finding her was "I must give the poor thing a home"? I've never heard anything so ridiculous I my life!" he ground out, hanging on to his temper with an act of will.
"I couldn't leave her there." Carrow gazed at Natasha who was currently trying to sink her fangs in to the flesh of his wrist and failing to make so much as a dent in the Astarte's toughened skin. "She's picking up the basics of knife fighting very quickly." He smiled down at her.
Snape rubbed his temples, feeling the beginnings of a headache coming on. He glared up at Carrow. "Just this once, I'll cover for you, since I can make the blood substitute for vampires; but you should tell the headmaster that she is resident in the castle."
Snape glared up at the large man. What was Dumbledore thinking letting this near the students? Standing tall in his leather "body-glove" as he preferred to call it, looking as if he were entering a "how many knives can you strap to your body" contest, and with his little vampire curled up in his arms, Carrow looked the epitome of Dark Lord chic. Sensing his stares, Natasha looked up from her playful chewing of Carrow's fingers, giving the Potions Master a wide mouthed grin, fangs fully extended, dribbling down her chin. Snape shuddered.
"I was really here to discuss your first class," he flatly stated, "since I'm going to be supervising you."
Carrow considered the matter. "I'm going to start with the basics." He grinned nastily.
Carrow followed the small red-haired girl-child at a distance careful that she wouldn't be too aware of him. According to his knowledge of her timetable she should currently be making her way towards the Charms classroom two floors below and considering the hissing muttering, she was definitely not in her right mind, quite literally.
Filius Flitwick must be quite worried about her non-appearance. The first staff meeting as a professor Carrow had taken the golden opportunity to set the teaching staff to watching Miss Weasley; the more eyes on her the better. He'd stated his concerns commenting on how subdued she seemed compared to her brothers. Was she well? Had there been family troubles? Was there a family history of depression or suicide? He'd noted that she tended to wander off into less frequented areas of the castle by herself.
It worried him.
The other staff looked at one another; he'd obviously touched on concerns that they'd all been harbouring; and promised to keep an eye out for the youngest Weasley child.
The result was the girl-child had been followed, talked to, and taken into various staff offices and offered tea and biscuits by different members of staff. She was unable to go anywhere without some concerned adult enquiring about her health.
It was all a good addition to his softly-softly approach.
"Miss Weasley," he growled from the shadows, "should you not be in class?" The small child jumped with a small squeak of fright as Carrow emerged into the torch-light of the corridor.
The small child gave him a timid smile and a nod, before trotting back the way she came.
At least this time she hadn't strung any trip-wires across the tops of any stairs or cursed any door-ways. With his monitoring system of bird-golems indicating she was safely on her way to class he made his way to the new DADA classroom, his long stride quickly eating up the distance.
Carrow's own experience of teaching was patchy to say the least. He had, of course, trained his own acolytes to his desired specifications. All of them had been adults, all of them had had previous experience of either the military or law enforcement, so he was merely adding to what they already knew. And of course, he had his treasured memories of his scout training, under the not so gentle hands of Scout-Sergeant Tarkus, God-Emperor rest his soul. It was an interesting challenge to adapt his favourite techniques to untried and untested children; to have the chance to shape and mould such young and tender minds, while teaching them to defend themselves against the evils of the universe was both a challenge and a privilege. Well, Inquisitor Carrow was going to seize this opportunity with both hands and run with it, which was why he was now prowling up and down in front of a row of terrified teenagers. Why they were terrified, he couldn't fathom, as he had the most marvellous treat lined up for them today. Their behaviour was very different from the first week of his classes.
The knowledge that he had in fact once been Harry Potter was wide spread among the student population who had clear memories of the small and shy first year from only a year ago. Some individuals saw this as a reason to not take him seriously, after all how could he possibly have anything to teach them, and attempted to disrupt his classes in various ways. He soon disabused them of any such notions they might have had about his competence as he made them run round the lake regardless of the weather and drilled them mercilessly in the basics of the sword and hand-to-hand fighting in the cold and the mud and the rain.
The students were not used to having such a hands-on teacher who almost exclusively gave practical lessons and firmly believed that theory was something they should research in their spare time and set essays accordingly. Some of them had attempted to confront him about his methods, most notably Draco Malfoy. The scrawny little boy had stormed up to him during the first second year Gryffindor-Slytherin class. From the way he was limping, Carrow rather thought the boy had large blisters caused by his fancy dress shoes rubbing as they got damp. The ridiculous boy had ranted about the weather, about the (to him) excessive exercise, the unimportance of non-magical defence to a Wizard, they were above such things after all, finishing off with "when my father hears about this!" Carrow had been completely unmoved. He was very happy to inform Lucius Malfoy of his son's performance or lack of it, and had pointed out to young Draco that if he didn't buck up his attitude, it was highly likely that his father might very well reconsider his position as the Malfoy heir, and replace him with one of his more talented bastards. The little brat had stared at him eyes bulging, mouth hanging open at that. He'd been very quiet in his classes ever since.
If the students had been shocked by his approach, he'd been just as shocked by them. Though he'd been living in the Castle for four months he'd had little contact with most of the student body; as he'd slowly got to know them he'd been stunned by their attitude to life. He'd never met such a sheltered, innocent and optimistic group of individuals. Some of them had never experienced death, not even that of an animal! He had been particularly disgusted with the dreadful fitness levels of the majority of the student body and had started an early morning running club to remedy it. He had tried to make it compulsory for every student, but much to his annoyance, the Headmaster had vetoed that idea despite his arguments. Regardless of the irritating road-blocks placed in his way, he was determined to bring every student up to an acceptable fitness level, and so increased the physical difficulty of the normal classes accordingly.
The combined fourth year Gryffindor-Slytherin class watched the dangerous figure of Professor Carrow prowl back and forth at the front of the class. Clad only in the tight fitting leather "body-glove" that he regularly wore, weapons strapped round his body and the mysterious chain wrapped around his torso, the new professor was an intimidating figure, especially compared to the embarrassing joke who'd been teaching them a mere month ago. There was no slacking or joking around in Carrow's class. It could literally result in death.
"Well, class," Carrow purred, grinning in what he thought was a friendly manner, "I have a very special treat for you today."
One of the Gryffindor girls went a delicate shade of eau de nil; maybe there was a stomach bug doing the rounds again. Carrow waved the reluctant students over to the duelling pit he had insisted was absolutely essential. With a touch of his telekinesis one of the containment cells that lined the pit's walls opened releasing its disgruntled contents, an adolescent acromantula hissing and clicking in rage at its confinement.
"I caught enough so that there's one each," Carrow told the class reassuringly while giving them an encouraging smile. One of the Slytherin students started to cry softly. Carrow sighed inwardly; some students just didn't want to learn.
"You won't need your wands for this," he reassured the gathered students as he leaped down in to the pit, "now I will demonstrate the best areas to target, watch carefully!"
The students unconsciously stood closer together for the little safety and comfort they could gain, as their overly large teacher pointed out the weak points on the giant spider's legs, its soft underbelly and the vulnerable area at the back of its head, mainly by sticking his boot knife in, while delivering a constant narrative on technique. As the mutilated corpse slumped to the ground, breathing its last, he leapt lightly out of the pit.
"Right, class," he said, with a cheerful grin, "select a blade from the rack and form an orderly queue."
Carrow watched in mild puzzlement as the class fought quietly for the back of the line. He found their behaviour rather odd, but no matter; he would make sure that they all got their rightful turn in the pit. When he was their age he would have been delighted at an opportunity such as this, and there would have been much competition between the aspirant "squads" for the most efficient kill times and the like, ungrateful little blighters.
One by one the students took their turn in the pit to try themselves against the half-grown creatures, the majority with reluctance. Some of them had to be assisted down in to the duelling pit with a levitation charm. He'd docked points from those students who had been slow or reluctant to make their kills and the one who had run round the pit screaming and then begged to be allowed out he'd given a detention to; he'd soon cure them of their reluctance.
The Weasley twins and one of the Slytherins were the only ones to manage a descent showing. Not the most efficient killers ever they had approached the task with the correct degree of enthusiasm and determination gaining them points.
All in all, it was quite a good class; much better than last week when he'd been teaching basic battlefield first aid with added healing charms. He thought it would be particularly instructive if the students practised their offensive hexes against one another, then they could have the practical experience of healing one another's injuries. The class had gone well until one of the young ladies had fainted. Her friends had explained that she disliked the sight of blood so much she tended to lose consciousness. Carrow had never heard anything so ridiculous in his life and had promptly used a useful little water charm, refused her pleas to go to the infirmary, and had given her detention for attempting to bunk off class. Despite the little upset, Carrow felt that things had gone well; much better for the students than just learning the theory alone. Carrow was a firm believer in learning through practical experience.
Medicae Pomfrey didn't see it in the same light though, as she had stormed up to him during dinner and then proceeded to threaten to string him up by his manhood if he ever put an entire class in the infirmary like that again. Apparently there had been a mass exodus there after he had released them.
He'd ignored her objections and proceeded with his lesson plan for the week, all part of his design to bring the average student up to combat standard, preferably of the Imperial Guard, but he knew that most of them would only manage the standard of an average PDF regiment. If only he had more time with them.
The only classes he made any real concession in were the first years on the grounds of their age and relative newness to Wizarding education.
By the middle of the week most students in the castle had had to go to the Apothecorian at least once due to an injury they hadn't managed to heal or had healed incorrectly, but learning to fight on while injured was such an important lesson that Carrow wasn't about to back down on this despite the daily visits from an increasingly furious Medicae, and the increasing bunking-off of certain students. Snape had been quite gleeful about rounding them up for him.
Things all came to a head on the Friday afternoon when Medicae Pomfrey had confronted him at dinner about his teaching techniques. He'd pointed out to her that he only had the best interest of the students at heart whether they liked it or not, and that her mollycoddling was stultifying their personal and physical development. How were they supposed to learn the skills necessary to survive in the harsh and brutal world that humanity inhabited if she got in the way? He couldn't understand why she was complaining about having work to do either; wasn't it her job to heal people?
Apparently this was the wrong thing to say. Madam Pomfrey had become increasingly incensed as Carrow had ranted. The man was cruel, brutal and shouldn't be allowed near children. His questioning of her professional integrity was the last straw.
Carrow watched in fascination as the woman proceeded to do a rather creditable impression of a sabre-toothed Carnodon, before attempting to string him up by his manhood just as she had promised. Carrow had easily dispelled the woman's magics but he couldn't effectively retaliate beyond that and taking her wand. If he'd attacked her in kind he would have easily injured or even killed her, something that would not endear him to the local population, and he needed them on his side, as he had to live with them, Throne curse it! Fortunately Dumbledore and McGonagall had stepped in and stopped the one-sided fight just as Pomfrey had transfigured some silverware into needles and animated them to repeatedly stab at him.
He still thought it was a good lesson plan though.
As the students made their exit as quickly as they reasonably could he approached the front of the class. Severus Snape was currently sitting in the teacher's chair, feet up on the desk, muttering at the latest issue of Brewer's Cauldron; disjointed snippets for the most part concerning the potential use of mint in calming drafts.
Carrow cleared his throat, amused, as Snape startled at the sound, but quickly covered it up with his usual dark scowl.
"Finished?" he snapped.
"Indeed." Carrow grinned at the other professor who winced. "Would you like to assist me in maiming the creatures for the first years? I suppose I ought to give them a leg up with this."
Snape considered for a moment, "Alright, but if Pomfrey asks I wasn't here."
Carrow chuckled. "Ever the politician, Severus."
The evening meal was in full swing, the students excitedly chattering to one another, more eager than normal to escape Hogwarts and begin the summer holidays. The large and forbidding figure at the head table had a lot to do with having been personally responsible for every single student having to go to the infirmary due to injuries incurred in his classes. His unsympathetic attitude and "it's a learning experience" spiel had succeeded in completely polarizing the student body. They either loathed and feared him or considered him to be the best DADA teacher to ever stalk the halls of Hogwarts. The exams that he had put them all through had only further cemented their opinions. Many of the students were still nursing injuries from it and none wanted to talk about its particulars in detail.
The professor in question was surveying the student population through narrowed eyes ever alert to misdemeanours. He glanced over the Gryffindor table counting the red-heads. Percy was there, head in a book as always and there were the twins chatting animatedly to their friend Lee Jordan; now there was a student who'd dramatically improved once he'd got the idea. Further down was Ronald talking intently to Miss Granger. The boy had improved immensely from the rather average happy-go-lucky individual he'd been before the turn of the year. Obviously his older brothers' prank had had some beneficial side-effects.
So where was the youngest Weasley child, the only female? A second sweep showed she was most definitely not present, though she'd certainly been there at the start of the meal.
Carrow discreetly pulled out the mirror display; the bird-golems were currently watching the young lady in question making her way purposefully towards that fateful lavatory. If he was quick he would have time to stop the creature's machinations.
He gently nudged Snape; the smaller man glowered up at him, resenting being disturbed from his beef stew. Before the dark man could exercise his amusingly sharp tongue he showed him the data the mirror was presenting. Snape looked at him sharply, one eyebrow raised. Seeing the other man's understanding, he nodded back. This was the perfect opportunity to put their plan in action. Picking up his force-staff he discretely left the Great Hall.
Slipping silently from shadow to shadow, Carrow followed the Basilisk and Miss Weasley, procession firmly in control, as they made their way through narrow corridors towards the main hub of the castle, the Entrance Hall and thereby the Great Hall, currently full of oblivious students happily chattering away as they looked forward to the beginning of the summer holidays.
The giant snake's scales hissed across the uneven flooring as it eased its way along, coils pushing against the walls to move its huge bulk forward as it travelled ever closer to the landing leading to the moving staircases.
Sneaking a quick look behind Carrow caught sight of Snape hiding in the shadows behind a pillar, face paler than normal, but jaw firmly set determined to see this through. The man had reserves of courage few could claim to possess. Carrow approved of him thoroughly.
As the Basilisk entered the Entrance Hall it paused confused by the overload of conflicting scents, new and old, assaulting its senses, its head swaying from side to side, tongue flickering out tasting the air, before locking on to the largest concentration of odours, the Great Hall.
The enormous magical snake surged forward on to the nearest staircase, its coils spilling over the banisters, its weight making the ancient stonework groan under the strain. The possessed girl-child followed the monstrous pet down to the next landing.
Seeing his chance Carrow surged forward coming to a halt behind an elaborately moulded pillar. Pulling out his plasma pistol he carefully sighted on the monstrous snake's head. With a flash and crackle of intense light the Basilisk's left eye vanished as if it had never been. The immense body of the creature thrashed and writhed in its death throes, its brain vaporised by temperatures more normally seen inside stars, the stairs groaning painfully. Miss Weasley jumped back on to the safety of the landing to avoid being crushed by the flailing body. With a catastrophic wrenching and grinding, the entire staircase wrenched free of its moorings as the snake's remains spilled down in to the Entrance Hall in a rain of chunks of stone and pieces of shattered staircase. The resounding crash rumbled through out the castle, as the ancient snake twitched a final time, before falling still, dust slowly pattering on to its glossy black scales.
The sudden and rumbling roar of noise caused every piece of tableware in the Great Hall to vibrate in its place on the long tables. Through the silence that now enveloped the hall the sound of pattering as if debris was falling could be clearly heard. The occupants of the hall, student and teacher alike, stared at one another and then at the large, and above all, empty chair at the high table.
Dumbledore stood, tapping a goblet with a fork to get the hall's attention. He had just opened his mouth, about to reassure the hall and ask for calm when the awful cry came, resonating in some plain beyond sound. It spoke of frustration and rage, a bottomless malice, and above all, an insatiable hunger. It was a sound to chill the blood of the stoutest heart. It went on and on, seeming to never end.
Dumbledore shuddered, cold sweat trickling down his back, at the inhuman and evil sound. Finding his voice, he quickly reasserted order amongst the frightened and panicked students. Taking Flitwick and Sprout with him, he went down the hall to the main doors. Typically, Snape was not present. Dumbledore could only hope that the Potions Master was safe where ever he was, and stopping Carrow from doing anything truly catastrophic. He was starting to regret having encouraged their friendship.
A quick charm rendered the solid aged oak of the doors temporarily transparent revealing a scene of chaos and destruction. Chunks of masonry and sections of staircase lay haphazardly, tangled with the dead carcass of the largest snake any of them had ever seen, its black scales dulled with dust and small debris. Above this devastation, on the second floor landing, was a light show of unreal colours as a battle for dominance took place between powerful foes.
Dumbledore, Sprout and Flitwick exchanged looks. This was one fight which they were better off staying out of.
Carrow ignored the abomination's cries of rage at the death of its toy, instead getting as close as he safely could to the thing before sending a pulse of psychery to the Purgatus. The runes on the chain glowed to life and the holy tool writhed away from his torso seeking out the damned creature before it. The girl-child's body was comparatively clumsy, and its attempts at escape and evade the chain were laughable. Its furious cries redoubled and turned to screams of acute pain as the blessed chain snaked around the small form of Miss Weasley imprisoning her, burning her skin with its holy and sanctified touch.
Holding his force-staff in front of him Carrow began to incant prayers to the God-Emperor, of purity and fortitude. Balefire coruscated around the haloed skull atop his staff, moving along its length and even jumping the short distance to his head. His eyes glowed with an unearthly blue light, cold and pitiless. With a single thought, the Purgatus of St Seraphim wrenched sideways passing through Miss Weasley's body as if she were made of smoke. Her slight form crumpled to the floor unconscious, while the abomination which had made its home within her all these months was finally revealed.
The unnatural creature's form was slightly out-of-focus as if it were...not quite there. Its blood red flesh flowed like water in its attempts to escape the burning purity of the Purgatus. Multiple bile-green eyes, slit like a goat's, glared malevolently at him, cold and hungry and utterly inhuman. A mouth opened impossibly wide snarling and spewing forth foul corrupt words, unnatural words to destroy the mind and corrupt the weak. Carrow snarled his defiance, utterly unimpressed by this warp-spawned thing, strong in his faith in the God-Emperor, steadfast in his duty to humanity.
"Severus! Now!" he shouted to the professor. The normally acerbic man shook himself out of his stupor, his usual composure broken in the face of this horrific monstrosity that he was faced with. Stealing himself, he ran forward, keeping low, doing his best to concentrate on the task of gathering the Weasley girl to safety, constantly reminding himself that Carrow had the...the whatever it was safely contained. He grabbed the child's slight form and ran, never looking back, for the comparative safety of the Infirmary.
The abomination redoubled its efforts at escape as it saw its host being carried away to safety, its cries ever more furious and terrible.
The furious and malicious screams from outside the hall became ever more penetrating and unbearable, mingled in with foul sounds which made all who heard them shudder in revulsion. Silencing charms did not work to mitigate it in any way. Dumbledore surveyed the hall from his post by the main doors. This was a potential disaster as most of the students were cringing and recoiling from the sounds, many panicking, most in tears.
"Why don't we get everybody to sing the school song?" Flitwick piped up, the normal cheer of his voice sounding strained.
Dumbledore opened his mouth to declare it a silly idea, but on second thoughts...
"What an excellent idea, Filius," he declared. Firing sparks into the air with a resounding bang he got everyone's attention.
"Right everyone, I think now would be an excellent point to sing the school song. Everyone pick a tune!" He waved his wand and the first lines of the song appeared, "and off we go!"
The singing was a little tentative at first, but as the students realised the positive effect they soon put all their effort in, even the most reluctant Slytherins. The Weasley twins cast a sonorous charm on themselves while singing along to the tune of Jerusalem.
It was one of the most rousing performances of the school song that anybody had witnessed in living memory.
Carrow began his chanting again, ignoring the desperate thrashing of the creature against its bonds, blue fire concentrating ever more in to his force-staff as he gathered his power. Holding his staff like a javelin he threw the staff, now a glowing brand of purifying fire, straight at the heart of the howling abomination.
The blazing staff struck true impaling the creature through and through. It screamed one last time, a sound of such horror, a desperate hateful sound full of malice and hate, utterly alien. As the warp-spawn's body glowed brighter and brighter it began to disintegrate as it was dissipated back to whence it had come. The shock-wave of its final scream as it completely disappeared knocked Carrow back a couple of steps. The Purgatus and force-staff hung in the air momentarily before falling to the floor with a clatter. Carrow brushed away a little dried blood from his nose; a side-effect of being so close to the death throes of the creature. Summoning his force-staff and the Purgatus to him, he made his way to the infirmary, the Purgatus writhing back into place around his torso.
Miss Weasley needed to be inspected as quickly as possible for signs of taint. She'd been playing host to a creature of the warp for Throne only knew how long. If he had his way he'd shoot her in the head and then burn the body. Unfortunately, the delicate sensibilities of the Wizarding World would not tolerate this course of action, or understand its necessity. The sooner he gained total control of it, the better.
Madam Pomfrey was furious. Snape had charged into the Infirmary carrying an unconscious student. His normal composure was completely broken, tears streaming down his face, body shaking uncontrollably. The poor man had been unable to speak, only able to point to Miss Weasley before hunching on one of the beds and staring at a distant point.
She'd done what she could for the poor girl before sorting Severus out, pouring a calming draft down him and getting him comfortable. Just as she was tucking in the now drowsy man the Infirmary doors burst open and Carrow strode in in all his dark glory, leather cassock swirling around his ankles, force staff in hand.
"That blasted man," Pomfrey snarled to herself, storming down the ward to head him off from whatever lunacy he was about to perpetrate now. She spluttered indignantly when he ignored her totally, shouldering past her, striding towards Miss Weasley's bed.
Carrow looked down at the small child lying on the bed, pale and still. Only the steady sound of the beat of her heart indicated she was alive. He had to make sure she was free of taint; he had to be absolutely certain. He'd still prefer to kill her and burn her body. Sighing heavily at the hardships life threw at him, he reacted out with his mind looking for anything, a shadow, a taste, that anything of the abomination lingered about her.
A careful examination revealed nothing obvious, but then taint was an insidious thing that lurked in an obscure corner biding its time before spreading and causing chaos and destruction. If he was going to leave the girl-child alive he had to be absolutely sure. He opened his mind's eye further, cautious to any danger lurking in the warp, the comforting presence of the God-Emperor just on the horizon. He looked towards it, praying that he succeeded in purifying Miss Weasley. The presence didn't stay safely on the horizon but reached out towards him, engulfing him.
Madam Pomfrey outraged at Carrow's behaviour had approached the man and was ready to launch a verbal tirade at him when the magical concentration within the Infirmary peaked to ridiculous levels. The hairs on her arms stood on end as the air in the room thickened as if in a thunderstorm.
"What..." she began.
Carrow turned his head but it wasn't Carrow that looked back at her, eyes glowing golden with unearthly power, an uncharacteristic quirk of the lips, and then whatever it was...winked at her. Pomfrey stared open mouthed as it turned back to poor Miss Weasley and placed one of its, Carrow's hands gently on her head, golden light collecting around his enormous digits, slowly enveloping Ginevra Weasley's still form.
Carrow blinked finding himself once more standing at the foot of Miss Weasley's sickbed, feeling as if he'd been run over by a Baneblade, black spots dancing in front of his eyes. Swaying, he turned unsteadily to find the medicae woman staring at him in shock, eyes round, mouth open giving him an excellent and unwanted view of her tonsils. He took a step away from the bed, nearly falling; the effort to remain upright was tremendous. Squinting against the encroaching black spots he saw that a number of the teaching staff had made it up to the infirmary. Dumbledore, Flitwick, Hooch and Hagrid stood in a row near the doors staring at him as if he'd grown another head. He checked carefully, he certainly hadn't. He shook his head trying to get rid of the annoying black spots that threatened to overwhelm his vision but failed miserably. As they finally coalesced into one, the horizon came up to meet him and he knew no more as he fell in to darkness.
Twenty-four hours later saw a hastily convened meeting in Madam Pomfrey's office. The Infirmary had spent much of that time under siege as the entire student body trooped up, house by house, to receive calming drafts and sleeping potions before being sent to their dormitories. Currently the only beds occupied were the, still unconscious, Ginny Weasley and Carrow. Snape had been well enough that morning to leave to look after his students. The poor man had suffered horrible nightmares, and Madam Pomfrey had had to dose him with some Dreamless Sleep.
"What happened?" Dumbledore asked, as exhausted looking as Pomfrey felt, with large shadows under his eyes. Frankly, Pomfrey wasn't sure herself of the events that had happened in the Infirmary. Carrow had stormed in, had some strange sort of fit before collapsing with exhaustion. Of what had happened before? Well, that was still a complete mystery.
"We're going to have to wait, I'm afraid," Pomfrey sighed, "I've no more idea what happened yesterday than you. Severus is not talking, so we're going to have to wait for the great lump to come round."
Dumbledore sighed to himself; he'd spent a sleepless night making sure that the Entrance Hall was structurally sound and safe to use. With the help of the Castle's house elves, the mess had soon been cleared away, but the major repairs to the damaged staircase would have to be completed over the summer.
"When is...is Mr Carrow likely to come round?" he asked tentatively dreading the answer.
Madam Pomfrey looked grim. "We'll know within the next day or so. Considering how much magic he channelled through himself yesterday it's a miracle he's still alive not some burnt out husk."
She looked out on to the ward proper towards the occupied beds. A small group of red-heads were visiting young Ginevra Weasley as the boys waited for their mother to arrive at the Castle; Mr Carrow's bed on the other hand was surrounded by curtains to give him a little privacy, if he came round, and to keep him from prying eyes.
"Scratch it being a miracle he's alive," she restated turning back to the headmaster, "I'm shocked he isn't a smoking husk."
The headmaster nodded miserably, face lined with worry. He didn't like Carrow particularly but he certainly didn't want him dead...just somewhere very far away.
Carrow blinked his eyes shedding the last vestiges of unconsciousness. The familiar white plastered ceiling of the Hogwart's Apothecorium lay overhead. A tiny, and he would admit rather childish, part of him wished that this was all a particularly strange dream and that he would wake up in his quarters on board the "Spear of Retribution". No such luck was coming his way.
Attempting to sit up he was hit by a wave of exhaustion which left him reeling. Puzzled for a moment it hit him; the cleansing of Miss Weasley, the God-Emperor reaching out to him. He had a feeling he was lucky to be alive. As it was, he felt as if he had been stood on by a titan. He scrubbed furiously at his face; he loathed being unwell. As he ran his hands over his head, he froze. Instead of the normal slick-backed neatness he normally sported, his questing fingers encountered short locks of soft, fluffy even, hair that were defiantly sticking up no matter how much he tried to flatten them. A...person had carefully removed every last trace of hair oil. Carrow was livid.
Dumbledore and Pomfrey were enjoying a quiet cup of tea together, their conversation having moved on to more cheerful subjects when it happened. A booming bellow, a sound as of a wounded bull mastodon, reverberated around the infirmary rattling the window and vibrating loose objects.
Exchanging a look over his teacup with Poppy, Dumbledore sighed. "It appears that the sleeping leviathan awakes."
"I think I preferred him unconscious" muttered Madame Pomfrey.
Pomfrey gave a huge sigh of relief as she strolled past the Weasley family gathered around little Ginny's bed. The young lady had finally regained consciousness last night and appeared to have survived her experiences with Carrow none the worse for wear. Even now she was happily chattering away to her parents and giggling at the antics of her twin brothers. Just to be certain Pomfrey had decided to keep her in till tomorrow morning just to make sure.
The other current occupant of the Infirmary was about to leave, currently sprucing himself up in the bathrooms. It would be a relief to be rid of him. Without a doubt, Carrow was the worst patient she'd ever had the misfortune to look after. Easily bored, unused to prolonged inactivity and unused to feeling debilitated, the large man had whined, sulked and constantly demanded her attention, while at the same time being argumentative and belligerent. When Snape had brought the man's pet vampire onto the ward Pomfrey was ready to tear her hair out, the young lady was obviously damaged in some way and out of some twisted sense of pity Carrow had taken her under his wing. The little creature had trailed around the Infirmary following her wherever she went, while Carrow snoozed. Pomfrey was utterly exhausted from having to deal with him and the strangeness that seemed to be attracted to him, and fervently hoped the awful man never, ever, darkened her door as a patient again.
The man in question shouldered his way through the bathroom door in to the Infirmary proper clad in his nightmare version of a military uniform, leather, epaulettes, skulls, chains and all. The Weasley family members who hadn't been exposed to him before stared in horrified fascination as the gigantic, menacing man made minute adjustments to his appearance, brushing invisible lint from his sleeves and carefully making sure his hair was in its proper, ordered and slicked-back state.
The Weasley twins grinned up at their favourite professor of all time, pleased to see him up and about "Alright Professor Carrow?" they chirped up.
Carrow rewarded them with a small smile. "Indeed" he rumbled.
The senior Weasleys jumped in surprise and eyed him and one another uneasily. The Headmaster would have only allowed this man's presence at the school if he considered him safe...wouldn't he?
Carrow eyed the two unfamiliar faces with interest. These must be the Weasley parents. He remembered the mother from all those years ago when he had gone to the locomotive terminus to catch the school train. She had seemed so large then but now she barely came up to his sternum. Had he really been that small once upon a time? Seeing Miss Weasley conscious and apparently in control of all her faculties he was pleased. Now she was purged of the daemonic it was possible she would be quite useful to have in his entourage once she'd grown up; definitely somebody to keep an eye on, but first one last check. He strode around the staring Weasley parents. Opening his mind's eye, he checked the small girl-child again. She appeared clear of any trace. But he could see quite clearly that she had been touched by the God-Emperor himself. Nothing tainted could survive the touch of something so pure. He drew back satisfied she was safe, opening his eyes on to the normal world.
The small girl-child smiled timidly up at him, "Am I...am I free of it?" she asked hopefully.
Carrow gave a small nod, "you appear to be clean of the abomination's taint."
"But..." she asked sensing there was reason for trepidation.
"But you can never be completely sr. It is best to be...cautious," he finished pleased she understood the situation to some degree.
Ginny gazed down at her fingers twined in the hospital blanket before looking back up at her giant saviour. "It would have been better if I'd died wouldn't it?"
Carrow was mildly impressed, people as a whole didn't want to die, but the acceptance in the child's eyes... she understood. "It would have made the situation a little...simpler if I'd killed you."
Ginny nodded her acceptance.
Unable to contain themselves any more the horrified Weasley parents exploded.
"Who the hell do you think you are?!"
"You horrible man, you shouldn't be allowed near children!"
"Nobody is talking about dying..."
"What in Merlin's name is going on here?"
"Ginny, what...what happened?"
Ginny looked up at her father close to tears. "There was a small diary in my school things when we came back from Diagon Alley last summer. I thought...I thought you'd got it for me as a little gift for starting school. I...started using it and...and it wrote back to me," she finished in a whisper.
Carrow felt like pounding his own head against the nearest wall. He'd know it had to be an external source but a book...simple and brilliant; a small common object easily hidden away. Who would think anything odd was occurring when they spotted a student writing in what looked like a notebook?
"Oh Ginny!" Mrs Weasley gasped utterly horrified.
"Ginny, haven't I told you, all of you," Mr Weasley included his sons giving them pointed looks, "don't trust anything that appears to be able to think for itself, if you can't see were its brains are kept. There are some very dangerous, very dark objects out there."
The girl's father was bordering on hysterical Carrow observed, and though the man's advice was admirable, it was flawed.
"There are many people and creatures that you should be careful of too" he quietly stated making the adult Weasleys jump. "Miss Weasley, when the diary appeared among your belongings, did you notice anybody or anything strange at the time? Did anyone approach you? Did anything odd happen?" It was a forlorn hope that the girl would remember anything but he had to try.
Ginny looked thoughtfully at her fingers. "Oh!" she exclaimed looking up at him sharply, "there was the fight with Lucius Malfoy!"
Carrow raised an eyebrow questioningly.
"Dad and Mr Malfoy had a fist fight in Flourish and Blotts" she continued. Mr Weasley groaned, embarrassed, his face flushing red. Mrs Weasley glared at him.
"Yes, I remember, they knocked over my cauldron with my school books in. Mr Malfoy picked one up and made a comment about second hand things before giving it back to me," she paused, her expression thoughtful, "I think...the diary was there after that, but I don't remember it before."
Carrow smiled like a shark; he needed a little more evidence before he could act, but sometimes suspicion of a crime was almost as good an admission of the crime. By handing out tainted objects, and consorting with the daemonic, Malfoy had signed his own death warrant. It was just a matter of time and opportunity.
"Thank-you Miss Weasley, you have been most helpful" the large man purred.
As he turned to leave Carrow felt a tugging on his sleeve, looking down revealed a desperate Mr Weasley looking for answers.
"Excuse me, but...what happened?" the worried father asked. "The Headmaster wasn't really able to answer our questions, and you seem to know more..."
Carrow considered the thin red-headed man, hair receding, slightly shabby clothes, tired and worried. How much of the truth should he tell someone like this? How much could he cope with?
As he carefully explained the events of the past year, the Weasley parents became increasingly grey-faced with the horror of the events being recounted. Maybe he'd overestimated their ability to cope or was it just the worry of a parent for their offspring. He'd be the first to admit he was no expert in this area of human psychology.
The sound of the Infirmary door distracted him from the suffering of the Weasley. Seeing Snape had entered with Natasha in tow he went to greet the man. Natasha, as usual, was pleased to see him and proceeded to shadow him tucking her tiny hand in to his. Snape, on the other hand, was closed off and unhappy, with his arms crossed defensively across his chest hiding behind his lank curtains of hair.
"Severus," Carrow murmured. Dark eyes peered up at him. Carrow checked the man yet again for any sign of taint, he was pretty sure the man was clean not having come in to physical contact with the abomination but it was best to be completely certain. The normally reserved and controlled man seemed to have been affected greatly by his experience as well as the emotional outburst he experienced afterwards. Carrow had a feeling that this may have something to do with the man's even surlier than normal behaviour.
"Severus," Carrow began, "I have witnessed hardened veterans of many battlefields put their guns to their heads and blow their own brains out on encountering such as the abomination that temporarily inhabited Miss Weasley. You have nothing to be ashamed of."
Snape was looking up at him eyes wide, mouth open as if he wanted to say something.
"If I hadn't had you with me," Carrow continued, "I would have had to kill Miss Weasley. It is because of you and your courage and strength of will that she still lives."
Snape was now blushing Carrow was amused to see, "thank you," the smaller man finally whispered.
Seeing an opportunity for a little fun Carrow hustled Snape towards the shaken Weasley family, Natasha trailing along behind.
"Mrs Weasley," Carrow announced, causing the shaken woman to startle, "Professor Snape here was instrumental in saving your daughter's life. If it wasn't for his courage and bravery I would have been forced to end Ginevra's life," he paused momentarily, "I was merely pest control."
The sheer gratitude in the senior Weasleys' eyes terrified Snape and it was all directed at him, Carrow having melted in to the background with a smirk.
Mr Weasley enthusiastically shook his hand, practically in tears, and then Mrs Weasley flung her arms around him enveloping him in a rib-creaking hug, sobbing all the while. He nervously patted her on the shoulder. Even the children, including Miss Weasley approached with smiles and gratitude. He had a horrible feeling that the Weasley's now considered themselves in his debt, and that he was never going to be rid of the horribly over-emotional Gryffindors.
As Carrow left the Apothecorium smirking to himself he was intercepted by Miss Weasley. The small girl-child gazed up at him solemnly, "if I should go like that again please, kill me. I don't think I'd survive it again."
Carrow considered the child, "Miss Weasley, I will kill you if such an event occurs again," he replied seriously, "you have my word."
The girl-child smiled up at him relieved and happy. "Thank you," she whispered, quickly hugging him before trotting back to her family and the flushed and flustered Severus Snape.
Lucius Malfoy strode up the drive towards Hogwarts School determined to get to the bottom of the mystery of the strange events his son had been reporting to him.
Much to his puzzlement there had only been two unexplained incidences at the school in the months before Christmas; all the rest of the year's events could be laid quite firmly at the feet of one Allesandor Carrow. Draco had faithfully reported Gilderoy Lockhart's strange disappearance and Carrow's appointment as stand-in Defence Professor, and then his letters had become oddly formal and distant. While Crabbe and Goyle were gleefully writing home with tales of killing acromantula and gaining points for technique and other such outlandish fare, Draco's missives were comparatively staid and quiet. What had altered his son's behaviour so dramatically? Yet another mystery, though he had a suspicion that it would lead back to Carrow.
Ah yes...Carrow. Well, there had been the poisoning debacle which had failed miserably. He was still having difficulties believing something as dangerous as Mordred's Breath had only given the man mild stomach ache. The usual methods were obviously not going to work against him, and that probably included having the man mugged to order in Knockturn. Lucius sighed heavily; anything else he'd been able to come up with would be very difficult to pass off as an unfortunate event. Why did life have to be so difficult?
It was only a matter of days before the large man's special bill went through and he was acknowledged as being legally an adult. Lucius wasn't sure how he felt about this; on the one hand he would finally have a worthy opponent who understood politics as he did; but on the other hand he would have a political rival who understood politics as he did and had their own agenda. He doubted the Wizengamot would be big enough for the both of them.
As he rapped smartly on the main doors to the Castle with his cane, he had come to the conclusion that no matter what, the next few months were going to see a dramatic change in the politics of the British Wizarding World.
As he entered the Headmaster's office, Lucius gazed around imperiously, the usual mess of occasional tables and ridiculous little trinkets revealed. Lucius was fairly certain that most of them were pretty pointless. The one nearest to him, a cross between a tuning fork and a wind-chime, was busily counting dust-motes in the air, but the one that was several yards to his left, the exploded orrary, was probably a dark-magic detector. This sort of thing was what made Dumbledore a tricky customer; he may have been a Gryffindor but he had a way of thinking that most Slytherins would envy. And there was the man himself, sitting behind his desk playing the role of benign grandfather as usual. Lucius blinked in shock, the man looked as if he'd aged forty years; obviously prolonged contact with Carrow was bad for you health. Stuffing his shock away Lucius proceeded with his plan.
"Ah, Headmaster," Lucius purred, "it has come to the attention of the governors that there have been some extremely dangerous...incidents over the past school year. Some of us are starting to question your judgment."
Dumbledore gazed thoughtfully up at the ceiling. There had indeed been a series of most unfortunate events this school year. Though Carrow had perpetrated quite a lot of them, he had been highly effective at containing the ones he hadn't. The Headmaster dreaded to think what would have happened if the irritating man hadn't been around. It would be interesting to know which incidents Lucius was interested in.
"I'm afraid, Lucius, that you're going to have to refresh my failing memory. Which incidents in particular are you referring to?"
Lucius frowned. He was sure the Headmaster knew exactly what he was talking about. "The petrifications before Christmas I believe were of particular concern. The students' families must be quite distraught at their condition."
Dumbledore hummed to himself. So Lucius was interested in the events Carrow had proved were directly linked to poor Ginevra Weasley and the object that had been planted on her at the beginning of the year.
"Nothing more than a couple of minor magical accidents. We quickly remedied the situation, Lucius, and the students involved were soon back in class." Dumbledore smiled reassuringly at the younger man, who seemed quite unhappy with the answer.
"How..." Lucius began but Dumbledore held up a hand forestalling him, "Mr Carrow was of great assistance in both cases and quickly undid the harm."
"And the perpetrator?" Lucius ground out.
"Dealt with" Dumbledore simply stated. "If you wish to know more, I'd recommend talking to Mr Carrow."
The sheer glee in the Headmaster's expression was enough to make Lucius feel quite unsettled. What had occurred here?
"Since Mr Carrow is here at present, why don't you ask him yourself?" the Headmaster continued, smiling sweetly and gesturing to Lucius' right. Frowning, Lucius followed the gesture with his gaze. Eyes widening he took in the massive, dark and brooding presence of Allesandor Carrow. He swore the man hadn't been in the room when he'd arrived, and he hadn't sensed a disillusionment charm at all, so how...he pulled himself together.
"Mr Carrow." Lucius nodded politely in greeting.
Carrow inclined his head, never taking his eyes off the smaller man, his expression predatory.
"Some of the governors came to me with tales of bullying and intimidation, and something about a vote of no confidence a couple of weeks ago," Dumbledore mused, twiddling his thumbs, gazing out of the large windows of his office.
"And how curious it is that a...toy of this Dark Lord of yours found its way in to the Castle" Carrow continued, his unnaturally deep voice cold and hard.
Lucius stared up at the man, intimidated despite his best efforts.
"But not to worry," Carrow continued smiling down at Lucius like a tiger, "the corrupt object had been destroyed utterly."
And it had too. At the same time Carrow had obliterated the warp creature, the diary had burst in to flames, destroying Ginerva Weasley's bed, her school bag, and quite a few of her other possessions. It was fortunate that the students had been at dinner at the time.
"So as you can see," Dumbledore continued, "the situation had been resolved satisfactorily and so there is nothing to worry about" he finished with a beaming smile, eyes twinkling.
"Why don't I walk you to the front gates Mr Malfoy," Carrow asked, "it's such a pity you've had a wasted journey."
Lucius had no choice but to accept and allow Carrow to sweep him through the school and down the front drive as they discussed ministry trivia and possible topics that would be discussed at the upcoming Wizengamot session. As they reached the gates Carrow offered his hand to Lucius. Thinking nothing of it, he shook hands with the large man trying not to shiver under his cold gaze and cruel smile, before apparating away.
In a rare moment (these days) of high spirits, Dumbledore was dancing around his office singing "tiptoe round the tulips" rather badly at the top of his voice, much to the disgust of the various portraits around the rooms who were busily shouting abuse and making rude hand gestures at the euphoric man. But Dumbledore was far too happy to take much notice. Carrow's special bill had finally been passed, and Carrow himself had officially moved into the Lodge, taking Natasha and that blasted security golem with him; the whole atmosphere of the Castle seemed brighter, happier, more amusing. When dear Minerva rushed into the room he just had to grab her and do a spirited waltz around the office.
"Albus!" shouted Minerva desperately trying to get the full attention of the hyper Headmaster, "Lucius Malfoy is dead."
In the sudden silence of the office it was possible to hear a pin drop. Albus stared incredulously at his deputy, mouth hanging open, good mood plunging like the proverbial lead balloon.
"How?" Albus asked expecting foul play.
"Well, the attending healer from St Mungo's put it down to natural causes, specifically a massive stroke," Minerva explained frowning, "except as we all know wizards don't really die from strokes."
The Headmaster nodded. It was a well known fact that their magic protected them from a whole range of mundane illnesses that brought many a muggle low, including stroke. Instead there was a whole range of magical diseases that they suffered but that was beside the point. Who had Lucius been with last? They might never...and then it struck him; out of his office window he had seen Lucius shake hands with Carrow.
"He's making his first moves," Dumbledore whispered.
"Who?" Minerva asked.
"Carrow," Dumbledore hissed, dread filling his bones.
It was the summer session of the Wizengamot and time had been set aside to commemorate the memory of the late Lucius Malfoy. Each member of the house stood and said their piece until they got to the newest member.
Clad in his black Wizengamot robes he cut an imposing, forbidding figure; somebody had tried to insist that his robes had to be red like everybody else's but it was very quickly decided that an unspoken exception would be made in Carrow's case.
Carrow politely inclined his head to Narcissa Malfoy, "may I offer my condolences on the untimely passing of Lucius Malfoy to you and your son. His death is a great loss to the Wizarding Community of this country."
Narcissa Malfoy gracefully accepted the newest Wizengamot member's commiserations wondering internally just how much Carrow knew about her husband's death. It was probably best not to know.
Dumbledore watched nervously; he was certain Carrow was starting to play out his plans. The question was, would the Wizarding World of Britain survive?
A certain professor of physics was cautiously sorting through his post wary of what had become the almost weekly report from the rabid Inquisitor, in Scotland of all places. He was still deciding what to do about the man before he caused too much havoc. At the moment he seemed to be concentrating on gaining as much economic power as he physically could within the Western financial markets and beyond. The thought of what he planned to do with it eventually was quite hair-raising.
A corner of a parchment envelope peeked out from under a pile of lecture invites. The Physics Professor almost groaned, his feelings turning to puzzlement when he pulled the envelope out. It wasn't the usual brick-like thing from Carrow at all and the writer had actually addressed the front,
To the God-Emperor,
Somewhere in Geneva,
I hope this gets to you,
in purple ink. He nearly put it on the loony-bin pile for that alone. But it was a parchment envelope, and there were traces of a psychic imprint that tasted strongly of worry and stress. Reluctantly he opened it. The letter inside was also written in purple ink on official stationary for..."Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry". He'd never heard of the place, a school for...psykers maybe, which would require a whole culture of psykers to support it, one that must be carefully hidden away from casually scrutiny. He'd been concentrating so much on all the exciting scientific advancements that were the future of the human race that these people had completely slipped him by.
The tone of the letter was slightly hysterical; the writer was apparently living in close proximity to Inquisitor Carrow which explained a lot. Carrow would probably drive most sane and rational people to use purple ink.
Maybe he should write back to this...Dumbledore...and what was a Supreme Mugwump anyway?